Cheney Free Press -

Staff Reporter 

Many new faces on Medical Lake boy's golf roster


There's a number of golfers who Medical Lake boy's coach Jim Mason would love to have more time to craft into better players.

He's going to get his wish, but likely not until next year because the bulk of his team this year, a turnout of 18, are either freshmen or sophomores. That's what Mason called a huge turnout.

"I have a lot of new golfers and basically three returners from last year," Mason said. "Zach Elder is probably my top guy," with Adam Howard another key team member. "We also return Cooper James who's shown a lot of improvement." Elder and Howard are shooting in the low 90s Mason said.

The rest of them are all new golfers. That includes Steven Valazquez, a multi-sport athlete who normally would be playing soccer but blew out his ACL in football and still has not fully recovered.

"He's going to be a pretty good golfer, I just wished I would have had him three or four years, not one," Mason said. "He's really athletic and has great hand-eye coordination, so he's getting better quicker."

Many of the new players have their own clubs, and that, Mason said, is a good thing. "In a couple of years we ought to be pretty dang good."

"The strength I have is that we have a whole bunch of young kids," Mason said. "They're working hard, they're making almost all the practices and you can tell they're totally into it."

Mason is not sure where the mix will take his team, but he thinks he got a glimpse of the future.

"I had a kid shoot 103 today (April 14) which was pretty dang good." That player is freshman Robert Fisher, who had been on the junior varsity team and was playing in his first match.

Speaking of freshmen, Mason has two that have made it to varsity, Michael O'Brien and Brendan Petro. Nathan King is another who, "Is right up there, too," Mason said.

"So I have about five freshmen who are going to be pretty good, three or four sophomores who are going to be pretty good," Mason said.

"It's kind of a rebuilding year this year," he said, "But next year we should be pretty tough."

While he's not at all looking past this year, Mason is content to look to the future with excitement.

"There's some pretty good sophomores in there, too, so it will be tough on who all makes varsity next year," Mason said. "There's about 10 kids who are neck and neck."

Progression to become a better competitive golfer usually takes a year or two, Mason said. "Unless they're playing a lot of golf."

Usually players who golf a lot can cut about 10 strokes a year off their game. "A lot of those kids are right around the 110 (stroke) mark," Mason said. They could hit 100 next year, based on how much they played in the summer.

Feeding into that improvement for the Cardinals is the help provided by the Fairways, Medical Lake's home course. "Buster (Heitman, course owner) and Kris (Kallem, course pro) treat us really nice," Mason said.

If they don't put the clubs away after the season and play through the summer they could actually trim 20 strokes off their game, he said.

"To be on of the tops in the league they're going to have to shoot around 80," Mason said. "I don't have anybody there, yet."

Paul Delaney can be reached at

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